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UNICEF photo: a child with microcephaly is kissed on the cheek by his brother © UNICEF Brazil/2016/Marcelino Danilo, from Pernambuco, Brazil, is being hugged by his brother. Danilo, who has microcephaly, visits the hospital twice a week. His mother, Ana Paula, says “With all this family love, it is easier to take care of him.”

Zika Global Response

In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:
200 million

people in Latin America and the Caribbean reached with key messages on prevention

At least 2

rapid diagnostic tests available for global use

Up to 2

candidate vaccines available

2017 Requirements: US$31,391,130

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Total people to be reached in 2017: 200 million1

Affecting at least 75 countries2 in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, the Zika virus outbreak continues to threaten the well-being of women and children while causing congenital and neurological conditions in newborns. More than 2,250 cases3 of microcephaly have already been reported in 28 countries and additional countries are expected to report cases of microcephaly and other congenital malformations in 2017. The Zika outbreak has the potential to spread in all areas where the Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are found and will disproportionately affect poor, marginalized and urban populations. While the full spectrum of neurological disorders and congenital complications attributable to the Zika virus is yet to be fully understood, UNICEF anticipates that it will have a long-lasting and multi-dimensional impact on children and their families socially, economically and psychologically. Climate change, weather phenomena (e.g. La Niña) and natural disasters may aggravate the situation in 2017.

Humanitarian strategy

2017 programme targets


  • At least two rapid diagnostic tests available for global use


  • 200 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean reached with key messages on prevention
  • Up to two candidate vaccines available

Care and support

  • A model of integrated and holistic care and support for children with congenital Zika disorders developed


  • Zika response and preparedness plans developed in at least four regions (West and Central Africa; Eastern and Southern Africa; East Asia and the Pacific; and South Asia)

In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the inter-agency Zika Strategic Response Plan (SRP) to guide the Zika response through the end of 2017. The UNICEF response plan is aligned with the SRP's five strategic objectives: 1) detection; 2) prevention; 3) care and support; 4) research; and 5) coordination. In its strategy, UNICEF is prioritizing the provision of holistic care and support services to families affected by Zika, including care for children with congenital Zika virus syndrome (CZVS) through psychosocial support, social protection, early childhood development interventions and nutrition support. Drawing on its expertise in Communication for Development and using multi-sectoral approaches for children with disabilities, UNICEF will work to build the knowledge and capacities of families and communities to care for children affected by CZVS. UNICEF will also continue to raise awareness of prevention measures, including through the use of insecticide-treated nets and increased access to reproductive and sexual health services, especially for teens, pregnant women and women of child-bearing age. At the global level, UNICEF will fast track the development of vaccines and rapid diagnostic tests.

Results from 2016

As of 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$16.9 million against the US$24.1 million appeal (70 per cent funded). In line with the inter-agency SRP, UNICEF has taken action in 32 countries and territories in Latin American and the Caribbean, and four countries in Asia and Africa, at both the community and policy levels, to protect women and children from Zika and mitigate its impact. UNICEF actions have included informing and engaging communities on protection and prevention measures and supporting the provision of non-clinical care and support for affected children and families. More than 162 million people have now been reached with prevention messages through mass social and digital media campaigns carried out in 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Nearly 130,000 children and adolescents have been trained and are actively participating in social mobilization activities at the community level in that region. UNICEF has also supported preparedness and response measures in seven countries in Asia and is fast tracking the development of vaccines and rapid diagnostic tests. In 2016, UNICEF also supported efforts to develop reliable Zika testing and diagnostics and produce a Zika vaccine.

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Funding requirements

UNICEF requires US$31.4 million for 2017 (of which US$10.5 million is for Latin America and the Caribbean), as part of its contribution to the SRP for the period July 2016 through December 2017. This will enable UNICEF to contribute to the achievement of the SRP's five objectives, including incentives to expedite diagnostics and testing as well as vaccine development. Given the complexity of the crisis, flexible resources at the global level will be essential to responding where the needs are greatest.

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1 The number of people to be reached in 2017 solely covers the Latin America and the Caribbean region.
2 World Health Organization, ‘Zika situation report’, 17 November 2016, www.who.int/emergencies/zika-virus/situation-report/17-november-2016/en/, accessed 29 November 2016.
3 Ibid.